Toward a LACOL course sharing framework (Spring/Summer ’18)

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Based on insights flowing from the Upper Level Math/Stats and Self-Instructional Language (SILP) course sharing pilots, a multi-campus, multidisciplinary Steering Committee and Course Design Task Force are working in concert to explore models and possibilities for course sharing across LACOL’s digital network.

JOINT REPORT April 2018: Executive Summary

(contact eevans@haverford.edu for a copy of the full report.

The Exploration

Sharing courses as a consortium can enhance curricular opportunities for students and faculty, lead to efficiency gains by combining expertise and curricular resources, and provide opportunities for our faculty and students to explore digitally-enhanced, collaborative modes for teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

As LACOL is considering a framework for course sharing, a learner-centered course design is recommended to emphasize interpersonal connections and engagement between faculty and students across a shared class. To the extent possible, a level playing field (via technology and pedagogy) should be maintained across local and remote learners. While there is not a one-size-fits all approach, there are plenty of proven models and techniques to draw on. Support for shared courses will depend on a thriving network of relationships across faculty, IT, library, accessibility offices, and other academic support units.

While the consortium expects to be in exploratory mode for the foreseeable future, success of any course sharing initiative critically depends on local champions at the leadership and grass roots levels.

2017 Course Sharing Pilots

Course Sharing for Portuguese (SILP)

In the Fall 2017/Spring 2018, Vassar College and Williams College shared a tutor and teaching resources for their students learning Portuguese via their Self-Instructional Language Programs.

Read more: http://lacol.net/project-summary-silp

Upper Level Math/Stats

In Spring and Fall of 2017, several LACOL colleges collaborated to pilot three shared course offerings for advanced mathematics and statistics:

  • Putnam Problem Solving, Spring ‘17 (Prof. S. Miller, WIlliams College)
  • Advanced Real Analysis, Fall ‘17 (Prof. S. Garcia, Pomona College)
  • Bayesian Statistics, Fall ‘17 (Prof. M. Hu, Vassar College)

Read more: http://lacol.net/category/collaborations/projects/upper-level-math

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Course Sharing Brainstorm at LACOL 2018

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Session: Course Sharing Brainstorm
Date/Time: Friday, June 1, 1:30-2:50pm
Location: Weitz 235
Background Reading: Straw Models
Facilitators:

  • Liz Evans, LACOL Director
  • Lioba Gerhardi, Adj. Asst. Professor of German and SILP Director, Vassar College
  • Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Asst. Professor Statistics, Vassar College
  • Steven J. Miller, Professor of Mathematics, Williams College

Sharing courses as a consortium can enhance curricular opportunities, lead to efficiency gains by combining expertise and curricular resources, and provide opportunities for our faculty and students to explore digitally-enhanced, collaborative modes for teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

Building on pilots and proofs of concept conducted in 2017,  faculty and staff across the consortium worked together in the spring of 2018 to explore opportunities and a framework (processes and infrastructure) that could support strategic course sharing.

http://lacol.net/category/collaborations/course-sharing

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Course Sharing for Self-Instructional Language Learning (SILP)

Colleges within the consortium offer some form of guided, self-instruction of lesser-taught languages. In Fall 2017/Spring 2018, Vassar College and Williams College launched a collaborative exploration to share online, synchronous classroom-to-classroom interactions across their across their Self-Instructional Language Programs in Portuguese.  Through online web conferencing, the classes on each campus shared a tutor and teaching resources for students learning practicing their Portuguese pronunciation and conversation skills. 

Learning Design:

  • Two one-hour synchronous sessions each week with all students and the tutors
  • Up to ten hours of independent study in preparation for the tutorial sessions

Students enrolled in a Self-Instructional Language Course meet twice a week with their tutor and other students in the course. Each student is expected to prepare thoroughly for these sessions, using detailed study guides, a textbook, and multimedia materials. The focus in SILP lies on communication, not on grammatical analysis and literary study. Hence tutorial sessions are conceived as review sessions, unlike more traditional language instruction where new material is often introduced during class.

The tutor’s role is to facilitate the active use of words and structures learned by students beforehand, and to model the use and pronunciation of the language. A shared course differs from a regular course in SILP only in the addition of remote learners to the host institution’s class. All students and the tutor interact with each other in real time via videoconferencing technology. In addition, tutorial sessions are recorded and may be used for further review.

– Project lead L. Gerhardi (Vassar College)

Related Posts:

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Upper Level Math & Stats Course Exchange

As one possible avenue to expanding curricular offerings for math and stats majors, partner schools in the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning (LACOL) have been exploring ways to remotely share classes using hybrid/online delivery modes.

Math/Stats Pilots: In Spring and Fall of 2017, several LACOL colleges collaborated to pilot three shared course offerings for advanced mathematics and statistics:

  • Putnam Problem Solving, Spring ‘17 (Prof. S. Miller, WIlliams College)
  • Advanced Real Analysis, Fall ‘17 (Prof. S. Garcia, Pomona College)
  • Bayesian Statistics, Fall ‘17 (Prof. M. Hu, Vassar College)

The goal of this exploration is increase the wealth and frequency of the advanced classes our students need, both for graduate study and to delve deeply in the subject.

Learning Design: For these shared courses, each professor opened their course to students across LACOL, sharing lectures, assignments and other class activities through both asynchronous (e.g. recorded lectures and screencasts) and synchronous (e. g. online problem solving sessions and office hours) means.

In these pilots, students reported positive experiences and some adjustments to learning through digital modes:

Before I took Professor Miller’s class, I was already very interested in problem-solving and participating in math competitions […] I was really excited to hear that there was a professor at Williams who was teaching a class on Putnam. I wanted to improve my problem solving skills systematically. The biggest advantage was that I could watch the videos whenever I wanted, and take classes that I otherwise could not fit in my schedule at Swarthmore. I also watched Professor Miller’s other videos, including the ones on number theory or complex analysis, to fill in gaps of my knowledge.
– John Fan, Swarthmore ’19

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You Are the New Gatekeeper of the News

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video gallery button_edited-1Event: Online Pop-Up Discussion, April 4th 2017
Title: You Are the New Gatekeeper of the News
Discussion Leader: Aly Colón, Knight Professor of Media Ethics, Washington and Lee University
Audience: Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumnae/i
Background Reading: You are the new gatekeepers of the news (The Conversation, Feb 7, 2017)

Aly Colón, Professor of Journalism Ethics, W&L
A. Colón

Discussion Topic: News consumers today face a flood of fake news and alternative information. In this online meet-up, journalism ethics professor Aly Colón explores forces of change in the new media landscape as we become responsible for deciding how we filter what’s news and what’s not. Professor Colón frames the conversation with historical examples and point to emerging trends in the digital age of news where Velocity + Volume = Volatility. As an ethical agent of journalism, how can you cultivate a mindset of open inquiry and deepen your capacities to handle challenging or uncomfortable views, especially in online settings?


Highlights (9:52)

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